Pacific Wrecks
Pacific Wrecks    
  Missing In Action (MIA) Prisoners Of War (POW) Unexploded Ordnance (UXO)  
Chronology Locations Aircraft Ships Submit Info How You Can Help Donate
Robert Diemert
Early Warbird Restoration and Japanese Aircraft Recoveries

Background
Robert "Bob" Diemert of Carman in Manitoba Province in central Canada was one of the first warbird restorer in the world. In the 1960s at his private airport Friendship Airfield (Friendship Field Airport or Carman Airfield). His first project was the purchase and restoration of Hawker Hurricane 5377 for use in the movie The Battle of Britain (1969) and flew as a stunt pilot in that film.  With the funds made from that film, he traveled to the South Pacific during 1968-69 to look for aircraft to recover.

South Pacific Recoveries
During the production of The Battle of Britain (1969), Diemert learned about the forthcoming movie Tora Tora Tora! (1970) and using the funds he made from the film traveled to the South Pacific during 1968-69 to look for Japanese aircraft and sought a Zero and Val to restore for the film and made three trips to the South Pacific and met William "Bill" Chapman, who suggested locations with Japanese aircraft.

During the late 1960s, Diemert claimed to have recovered four airframes: D3A2 Val 3178 plus three A6M Zeros from several locations, and smaller parts from other wrecks. Using local help, the aircraft were cut into into pieces to facilitate loading them onto a barge then shipped to Port Moresby and stored in a pile in a fenced area at Jackson Airport during December 1968–January 1969.

During the middle of January 1969, a deal was made with the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) to airlift the wreckage aboard a C-130 Hercules to Canada. From Diemert's private airfield, Friendship Airfield he restored several Japanese aircraft in 1969 until 1985.

Japanese Aircraft Salvaged by Robert Diemert
Recovered from the South Pacific during 1967–1968

Aircraft Restored by Robert Diemert
Recovered from the South Pacific during 1967–1968

Click For Enlargement Click For Enlargement Click For Enlargement Click For Enlargement

Restorations
In the late 1960s, Diemert restored Hawker Hurricane 5377. In the early 1970 until the middle 1980s he he and his assistant Chris Ball restored several other warbirds, including a P-40, P-38 and a Blenheim. He also restored four Japanese aircraft he recovered: a Val and three Zeros.

Restoration of Japanese Aircraft
Diemert restored several Japanese aircraft during the late 1960s until the late 1970s. First, he restored D3A2 Val 3178 to airworthy condition. Next, he restored a second Zero with the identity A6M2 Zero 4461 but it crashed on its first test flight in 1973. Afterwards, he restored A6M2 Zero 5450 sold to the U. S. Marine Corps Museum (USMC Museum). Finally, he restored a third Zero with the identity A6M2 Zero 5356 and sold it to the Confederate Air Force (CAF).

D3A2 Model 22 Val Manufacture Number 3178
First he restored the D3A2 Val 3178 using a Wright R-2600 radial engine, and flew it to Ottawa where it was donated to the Canadian National Aviation Museum, in return for the transportation services of the Canadian Air Force (CAF). 

PacificWrecks.com Click For Enlargement Click For Enlargement Click For Enlargement PacificWrecks.com

A6M2 Model 21 Zero Manufacture Number 5450 Tail EII-140
The second Zero restoration took 7,000 hours between 1973–1977. In 1977 sold to the USMC Museum, today at NAS Pensacola.

Click For Enlargement Click For Enlargement Click For Enlargement Click For Enlargement Click For Enlargement

A6M2 Model 21 Zero Manufacture 5356 Tail EII-102
The third Zero restoration was performed by Robert Diemert and Chris Ball plus some assistance from a Mitsubishi staff for the Confederate Air Force (CAF). This restoration was documented in The Defender (1988) includes footage of this restoration. Today, this Zero Pacific Aviation Museum (Ford Island Museum).

Click For Enlargement Click For Enlargement Click For Enlargement Click For Enlargement Click For Enlargement

Zero parts used in Blayd Corporation Zero Reconstruction
In 1990 Diemert sold all of the remaining Zero parts to John Calverley and Earl Calverley of the Blayd Corporation who used the original parts as templates to create A6M2 Zero (Reconstruction) known as the "Dakota Blayd Zero" or "Blayd Zero" as it was purchased by a consortium based in ND and MN. These partners took the airframe made by Blayd and finished the restoration at Tri-State Aviation. This reconstructed Zero was given the identity of A6M2 Zero 6544 Tail A1-1-126. Today, Earl Calverley still has the parts Diemert sold them. The only large identifiable pieces in this collection is a deskinned left wing from A6M2 5459 and the deskinned front fuselage section from A6M2 Zero 3471.

Legacy
Since Diemert's involvement with these restorations. The three restored aircraft have had several other paint schemes and owners and restoration work preformed over the years. Afterwards, most of the remaining Zero parts were sold to Blayd Corporation with a smaller number sold to other aircraft collectors and restorers including Taizou Nakumura and John Falis.

References
Control Column "Mitsubishi Move" Vol. 11, No. 5 July 1977 page 108
The Defender (1988)
CAF Midland Texas "Zero Recovery & Restoration" article on Robert Diemert
Winnipeg Free Press "Tweaking the WIGs: Carman team among developers of advanced aircraft" May 8, 2015
Thanks to Robert Diemert and Chris Ball for additional information


  Discussion Forum Daily Updates Reviews Museums Interviews & Oral Histories  
 
Pacific Wrecks Inc. All rights reserved.
Donate Now Facebook Twitter YouTube Google Plus Instagram